Server for Virtualization


Jul 10, 2009
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Virtualization (Most important) it will be a server
PARTS REQUIRED: Powersupply, Processor, Motherboard, Ram, Cabinet
PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel for processor
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Quiet confused whether to take an AMD or Intel


My recommendation is, if it's within budget, go with Intel. If you're looking to do it for less, go AMD. I use both (three Intel, two AMD) and all have performed to my expectations.

Since you're planning on working with virtualization, I think your biggest concern is going to be memory. Each virtual machine is going to require it's own memory set aside for it. For this reason, I prioritized my search for motherboards that could accept 16GB of RAM and came up with the following:

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX - $135
CPU: Intel Core2Quad Q9550 - $220
RAM: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 x2 - $460
Case & PSU Combo: Antec 300 Black & Antec Earthwatts EA430 - $95
Hard Drive 1: Seagate SATAII 160GB - $40
Hard Drive 2: Seagate SATAII 750GB - $80
Optical Drive: LG Black 22X DVD+R SATA 22X DVD Burner - $28 (slim pickings here)
Graphics Card: Sapphire HD4350 - $36

Total Cost: $1094 + S&H (does not include rebates).

-Wolf sends


May 8, 2009
Agree with Wolfshadw that memory is probably a key factor. However...

A. How are you going to use it?
1. A production VM server--you're consolidating and want a server that runs the same images all the time?
2. A lab VM server--you're going to use it to test systems or construct virtual environments/networks?
3. A combination of A.1 and A.2?
4. Will this server also be a desktop system, or will you access it primarily from another system (e.g., using RDP, X, VNC, etc.)?

B. Which host OS/hypervisor will you be using?

C. In general for virtualization:
1. More slower cores/threads are better than fewer faster cores/threads.
2. More slower memory is better than less faster memory.
3. Reasonably fast disk(s) for working VM's is better than a larger slower disk.
4. ... but you probaby want larger disk(s) to store/archive VM images.
5. If using a SAN/NAS, 2x Gbe Ethernet is good; if DAS, 1x Gbe is sufficient.

D. CPU (and hence mobo and memory) are most critical buy decision, as a significant upgrade is expensive. Nehalem provides extended page table (EPT) support--which you don't get on other Intel CPU's--and 8 effective threads. AMD has provided NPT, the equivalent of EPT, on most processors for quite a while. Order of choice for CPU would be:
1. Core i7 -- EPT, 8 effective threads.
2. AMD -- NPT, 4 threads/cores
3. Core 2 Quad -- 4 threads/cores

E. Assuming a server-type use, I'd suggest:
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 @$280/ea x1 = $280
Motherboard: (ATX) Supermicro MBD-X8STE-O @$280/ea x1 = $280
Memory: (12GB) 2x Crucial 6GB (3 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 ECC @$108/ea x2 = $216
Case: LIAN LI PC-7BPLUSII COMBO @$170/ea x1 = $170
PSU: 550W (Seasonic) included with case = $0
Video: onboard (or add your own) = $0
LAN: 2x Intel Gbe (onboard) = $0
NOTE: the Crucial memory is on Supermicro's QVL.

F. You didn't mention disk, optical, or video. I assume you have those, so they aren't included. (For video you can use onboard which is sufficient for the resolution you spec, or add your own.) If you don't have disk, I'd suggest:
1. WD Caviar Green WD15EADS 1.5TB @$130/ea x1 = $130
2. WD Caviar RE2 WD1601ABYS 160GB @$57/ea x5 = $285
Configured as:
- F.1: 1x WD Caviar Green 1.5TB: VM archive/mage storage
- F.2: 1x WD RE2 160GB: OS volume
- F.2: 4x WD RE2 160GB: RAID-10 VM work volume (320GB effective)

G. NOTE: The above disk configuration exhausts all of the SATA ports. If you need to add optical, I'd suggest a cheap add-in card or USB. Alternatively, you might consider:
1. WD RE3 WD1002FBYS 1TB for OS and VM image storage @$160/ea x1 - $160
2. WD Caviar RE2 WD1601ABYS 160GB @$57/ea x4 = $228
Configured as:
- G.1: Partition with ~80GB for the OS/apps and the rest for VM archive/image store.
- G.2: 4x WD RE2 160GB: RAID-10 VM work volume (320GB effective)
That saves you a bit and you have a free SATA port for optical or whatever.

H. So what does that get you?
1. CPU: 4 cores and 8 threads -- Enough to run some pretty serious workloads.
2. Memory: 12GB -- Sufficient for most workloads given the CPU/disk; if you need more later, upgrade to 4GB in one channel (18GB total) or both (24GB total) when 4GB memory prices drop.
3. Disk: 320Gb RAID-10 Sufficient and reasonably fast for working VMs (more than you really need), plus plenty of space 1TB+ for archived VM images.
4. Sufficent CPU and storage to compress/archive VM images you don't need every day, but without having to wait all day when you want them.
5. Case/PSU: Enough for those disks, and enough externally-accessible bays for optical, and removable drive racks for the OS/storage disks if desired (which I would recommend).

Excluding discounts, rebates, S&H, tax, etc...
TOTAL option E: $946
TOTAL option E + F: $1361
TOTAL option E + G: $1334

NOTE: If you have disks you can reuse, I'd go with option E first; if you find performance is disk IO limited, then consider options F and G, or a decent hardware RAID controller.

Good luck and let us know what you decide and how it works for you.

p.s My setup is a dedicated VM server with a small separate desktop system; 99.99% of the time I access the VM server remotely from that desktop (the desktop is basically a thin client with reasonable video). I consolidated several home systems into the VM server years ago, and those images run pretty much 24x7. However, I also use the VM server for test, evaluation and development.


Jul 10, 2009

Thanks guys amazing configs ....i knew i could count on tomshardware..:) :D